But 2020 is nothing if not a year of change, and the latest king of the speed hill in Canada is Telus. Every one of the major ISPs in Canada saw a nice speed increase from 2019 (click the tab at the top of the chart to compare).
We include it because Bean field got at least 100 tests, which is the minimum number we require for inclusion in this story. But that number fell quite a bit for 2020 to 112.2, which dropped Bell Valiant to sixth place.
Communicate Freely, a small locally owned fiber ISP in Port Perry, Ontario, made the list last year and stuck around this time with a nice speed increase to 107.4 from 91.7. As usual, we did not get enough response from Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories to include in our story, nor do we have enough data from Prince Edward Island.
(Click the tabs to compare other years; hover your cursor over a label to see the exact CMA Speed Index for that location.) We've said it before, and it's worth repeating: this level of competition in a small region is good for customers.
Saskatchewan had a great showing, now coming in as the third fastest of the provinces this year, with an excellent 135.4 thanks to providers like Shaw and Bell Valiant. This year, Lévis did even better, upping that city-wide index to 435.3, a stunning number... that is completely overshadowed by a score of 493.3 from Chamber, QC, a suburb of Montreal.
Like last year, this is a collection of small towns and suburbs benefiting from having ISPs throw fiber installations at them. We look at the average throughput up and down, recorded in kilo bits per second, which we divide by 1,000 to get to Megabits per second, or Mbps.
For gamers in Canada, that means looking for the broadband provider with the least amount of jitter and latency on the line. That's what this story is all about: high-quality ISP connections, the kind a serious gamer needs to deliver the ultimate frag before they're kicked off the map.
There was a time when Montreal-based Costco spent a couple of years at the top of this list, with Gaming Quality Index numbers that couldn't be beat. There are small and local and municipality providers, which traditionally offer internet connection class that the big companies can only dream of.
Virgin Mobile's fixed broadband (that's a fancy way of saying it has wires going to homes) may not be everywhere, but if you're big into gaming, maybe you should move to one of its service areas. This number is now the record highest Gaming Quality Index score we've ever seen out of our test from Canada.
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December 4, 2020, Via net is proud to bring Fiber to the Home to the communities of Loretto, Evansville, Colman and other rural areas in Adjala-Tosorontio. November 19, 2021 Dora residents can now look forward to reliable high-speed internet as Via net announces a three-phase fiber optic build within the community.
Savvy will reportedly lay off 130 employees and plans to raise its rates due to the increased costs related to COVID-19 and the ongoing internet service provider court challenge. The aforementioned ISP court challenge is regarding the five major cable companies (Rogers, Shaw Communications, East link, Costco, and Video tron), and Bell requests to the federal court challenge in November to overrule a 2019 regulatory decision that slashed wholesale rates that carriers can charge independent ISPs like Savvy.
Since then, Savvy has repeatedly appealed to Canadian consumers for support in the battle with independent internet service providers versus the bigger telecoms. Earlier this year, Savvy filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau that alleges that ISPs like Bell and Rogers engaged in anti-competitive practices like manipulating rates.
Update 03/27/2021 : Savvy has told MobileSyrup that the price increases and layoffs are separate from COVID-19, and that it would have had to take these actions regardless due to the uncertainty of the court cases on the wholesale rates. Additionally, an email to customers notes, “Savvy has made difficult decisions in order to continue providing you with the service you expect and deserve.
After more than 30 hours of research and testing, we found that the inexpensive TP-Link RE220 will make your network noticeably more reliable in a small area. No inexpensive Wi-Fi extender will improve the speeds of an outdated router or cover multiple dead spots in your home.
If your router is more than a few years old, you’ll be better off skipping the extender and replacing your network completely with a mesh Wi-Fi kit. Plus, it’s easy to set up, it isn’t too bulky, and it has an Ethernet port for connecting wired devices.
At a typical price of $25, it’s a simple fix that costs a lot less than a major hardware upgrade. It lacks an Ethernet port for connecting devices (such as desktop PCs or gaming consoles) to improve performance, so it’s strictly wireless-only.
Though a new mesh kit with a matching router and extender may perform a little better, going with the EX7700 generally costs $100 less than starting from scratch with our favorite. Such kits can be more reliable than Wi-Fi–only extenders, but they’re also heavily dependent on the age, quality, and complexity of your home’s electrical wires.
Collapse all If parts of your home or apartment don’t get a good Wi-Fi signal, a wireless extender can offer a boost. If you already own a decent router and simply want to improve Wi-Fi and boost the Wi-Fi signal in one or two extra rooms, an extender might be just the band-aid you’re looking for.
Price: We didn’t consider anything over $150, and we paid special attention to extenders that cost $50 or less. Putting devices in the right places is key to any mesh network’s success; you should space them out in a way that gives all areas of your home Wi-Fi coverage.
We put each extender about 40 feet away from the router, in our lounge on the other side of the office’s main kitchen, well within the “bubble” of the Wi-Fi signal from the Archer A7. We didn’t disable any of the surrounding Wi-Fi networks or wireless devices like Sonos speaker systems; these kept doing their usual noisy things, just as they probably do in your home.
Upgrading your firmware to the most recent version before using your network devices is crucial for receiving both potential performance improvements and security patches. Upgrading your firmware to the most recent version after setting up your network devices is crucial for receiving both potential performance improvements and security patches.
It also offers a compact size, plugs directly into a power outlet, and has a 100 Mbps wired Ethernet port for nearby devices. The TP-Link RE220, particularly when it came to keeping six laptops connected and satisfactorily serving simulated video streams and websites.
The TP-Link RE300 and Netgear EX7700 never dropped their connections, but they didn’t offer enough of an improvement over the RE220 to justify their higher prices for most people. Photo: Sarah KobosEven though most people think about making their Wi-Fi faster by increasing the throughput (or speed, generally measured in megabits per second, or Mbps), reducing latency is often more important.
Latency (measured in milliseconds, or ms) is the delay you experience while you wait for something such as a Web page to start loading. You can use the RE220’s wired Ethernet jack to plug in a game console, streaming box, or PC; doing so improves performance for devices that need to communicate wirelessly by removing competition from the airwaves.
You can easily use it to add and administer the RE220 and RE300 without requiring an additional app. If you’re already using a compatible TP-Link router like the Archer A7, enabling Oneness on the RE220 improves connectivity even further. All you have to do is enter the common network name (SSID) on your phone or device, and your phone or device will automatically connect to the extender or router and choose between the 2.4 and 5 GHz channels based on whichever connection is the most efficient as you roam around your home.
Running the RE220 without Oneness was a bit slower, with a couple of disconnected sessions, but on the whole Web browsing was more stable than on the Archer A7 alone. As is generally the case with Wi-Fi extenders, adding the RE220 made Wi-Fi connections more reliable but slowed the speed a bit.
Overall, though, the connection still felt more responsive and less frustrating than it did without the extender, so we think the increased stability is a good trade-off. Once you’re connected, the Tether app or the RE220’s Web interface walks you through the process of attaching it to your base router’s Wi-Fi network.
The RE220 dropped just a few, but individual setups will vary, and since the RE300 is more expensive and lacks a built-in Ethernet port for wired connections, we still think the RE220 is the better choice most of the time. That result was a little better than what we saw from the RE220, which showed marked improvement in network stability but still dropped a fewer than a handful of connections during our tests.
The EX7700’s configuration Web page looks like Netgear’s router interface, but you need to access it separately. Mesh-network kits like the D-Link Cover have one site to manage, not two. The EX7700 is typically five times more expensive than the RE220 or RE300, but in return the Netgear EX7700 outpaced both of those extenders in all of our testing.
Paired with a good budget router, the EX7700 easily kept up with the performance of expensive Synology and D-Link Cover mesh kits we recommend. All six laptops reported above-average numbers on our tests, so even a whole family’s phones, tablets, and streaming boxes should have strong enough connections to keep everyone satisfied.
Photo: Sarah KobosThat said, we still recommend buying a purpose-built mesh-networking kit if you’re also replacing an old router, or if you know you’ll need to expand your network even farther in the future. Kits have a unified administration page or mobile app, which is a lot easier to manage than two separate ones (one for the extender and one for your standalone router).
And because all the components of a mesh-network kit are designed to work together, they may be a bit better at juggling devices than a standalone router with an add-on extender. If you discover that the EX7700 and your existing router still can’t reach all parts of your home, it’s a less ideal option than an easily expandable mesh network from a manufacturer such as Synology or Hero.
In addition to evaluating extenders’ ability to tame dropouts, we tested to see how they improved the browsing experience, measured in latency. As mentioned above, latency refers to the time you spend between clicking on a link and waiting for the next Web page, streaming video, or file download to come through.
During our multi-client testing, we looked at how well a Web browser connected through the extender performed typically (the median) as well as how poorly it did in its worst moments (the 75th-, 90th-, 95th-, and 99th-percentile results). This means you spend less time waiting while browsing on a crowded network. The TP-Link RE220 improved latency compared with the standalone Archer A7, particularly when Oneness was enabled.
But some time, browsing latency suffers, as shown on the left side of this chart. Browsing performance was a little worse when we disabled Oneness to show how each TP-Link extender would work with other, non-OneMesh routers. However, the RE220 still improved the Wi-Fi connection stability in most situations, particularly as the network experienced its worst moments, as shown past the 80 percent mark in the graph above.
Our stacked median latency chart shows how we’d expect each extender to perform most of the time. Longer browsing bars mean more time waiting for pages to load. Our stacked median latency chart above shows the typical latency for every computer on our test network at once, giving some idea of how the whole network will usually perform when multiple devices are making requests at the same time.
It’s clear why the Netgear EX7700 is a lot more expensive than the RE220 or RE300: Because of its third wireless band and more powerful processor, it’s more efficient overall when the network is serving Web pages, streaming videos, and downloading files simultaneously. In total, we found that it was roughly as fast as the Synology and D-Link mesh kits, which were among the quickest contenders during our latest round of mesh-kit testing.
All the setups above were faster than the Archer A7 alone, a result that demonstrates how these extenders can help active networks with moderate traffic. A few extenders had worse performance than the router alone, prompting longer waits and suggesting a generally unpleasant browsing experience. Although the TP-Link RE300 maintained rock-steady connections during our testing, it produced relatively long latency numbers once we turned Oneness on.
A wait of under 1,000 milliseconds (or just under a second) for half the Web pages requested is not an eternity, but compounded over many sites, the experience would be perceived as being quite a bit slower than using the RE300 as a non-mesh extender. This result shows that mesh isn’t a panacea in all situations, and for now, we recommend using the RE300 with Oneness turned off.
It’s already difficult to recommend investing in an extender when purpose-built mesh kits typically give you faster, farther-ranging connections and easier setup. The Netgear EX6250 showed promise as one of the least expensive (about $90) mesh extenders capable of working with all routers.
We also researched and considered over two dozen extenders from Amped Wireless, Amplify, Asus, D-Link, Climax, Links, Netgear, Tend, and Pixel. These models either failed to meet our requirements, were discontinued by the manufacturer, or were dismissed in a previous version of this guide.
Joel Santo Domingo is a senior staff writer covering networking and storage at Wire cutter. Previously he tested and reviewed more than a thousand PCs and tech devices for CMA and other sites over 17 years.
Joel became attracted to service journalism after answering many “What’s good?” questions while working as an IT manager and technician. We tested the best mesh-networking kits to find which ones solve the problem of bad Wi-Fi in large homes, complicated floor plans, and troublesome dead zones.